A Stroll Around the Garden
While Robb was busily ripping apart our front steps this weekend, I had a whack at my garden. And I must say, it needed a good whack.
The tiny strip of earth between our house and the neighbors' driveway is the site of my fig grove. It's also the home to about ten million weeds, which I valiantly battled this weekend.
I find it amazingly difficult to photograph this part of the garden. The figs always look so stunted, when they're actually significantly taller than I am. I grew all these plants from tiny babies, and I'm hoping that we'll get fruit from at least four of the five plants this summer.
My dirt-colored kitty Smog is almost invisible on his garden catwalk.
The beans I planted a few weeks ago are doing well. It's a good thing that I have plenty of extra baby bean plants, because this bed is a magnet for all our animals. The chickens keep escaping from their part of the garden, and tearing things up. And the cats seem determined to nap on top of anything I plant.
I had also planted collard greens in this bed, but I think the snails and slugs destroyed them. They simply de-materialized. Strange, really, because collards are such tough plants.
For the second spring in a row, our lovely plum tree barely flowered at all, and thus has almost no fruit developing. I don't know if this is a result of our multi-year drought, or due to a lack of chill hours. I'm hoping that this lack of flowers and fruit isn't a permanent change. I worry that the climate is changing, or that the tree is unwell. But I'm such a novice fruit grower that I really cannot diagnose the problem.
The abundance of pluots more than makes up for the sparseness of our plums.
I watch a lot of British gardening shows, and they always advocate thinning the developing fruits. I just can't bring myself to do this, because it seems so wasteful. And also, if I'm being totally honest, I think that certain British garden show hosts tortures his fruit trees. I don't see the point in growing a tree in unnatural forms, unless there's a really compelling reason to do so. I tend to let the trees grow the way they seem to want to. I know this will sound like heresy, but cordons and espaliers seem like the fruit-growers' version of foot-binding.
I'm sure that I'll come to regret my lack of rigor, when my fruit trees take over every inch of my garden.
It seems that one of the pomegranates is starting to mature. Last year it set three blossoms, which all fell off the plant without setting fruit. I'm not sure how this plant's slender branches will support the weight of a pomegranate.
Pomegranate flowers are otherworldly. Their casings look like they're made of wax. I need to pay attention, to see if the bees are visiting the flowers or not.
Our red currants are beautiful, but haven't fully ripened. I didn't photograph our cherry. It's a baby, and if we get a dozen fruits this year, I'll be thrilled.
Since the Alicia hive swarmed on Saturday, I thought I'd better have a look at the Lori bees. The hive was jam-packed with honey, so I harvested four frames. I interspersed empty frames between the honeycomb I'd left behind, hoping that this would deter the bees from building terribly irregular comb. It's not that I'm obsessed with neatness, it's just that irregular comb gets damaged during hive inspections. And I don't want to harm my bees.
Since Robb and I live in a tiny house with limited storage, we do not own a centrifugal honey extractor. We harvest our honey by cutting the honeycomb out of the wooden frames, cutting the comb apart, and letting it strain through a multi-tiered sieve. I rather like the simplicity of it all.
Once most of the honey has strained out of the comb, we'll rinse the comb with water, and use the honey-water to make mead. And once the wax is cleaned, I'll melt it so that it takes up less space. Beeswax has all sorts of uses, so we store it until we need it.
Last year we hardly harvested any honey at all. I imagine that the bees struggled to collected sufficient nectar during our drought. I'm glad that the bees seem to be having an easier time this year.
I hope you enjoyed ambling around my little garden. If you're interested in reading what other gardeners are up to, stroll over to the weekly garden party, hosted by Our Happy Acres.
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